This is the first in a three part series where we will look at the Gospel of Mark, seeking to understand a little of the reasons for accepting it’s primacy over the other three gospels (in terms of being the earliest written or not), authorship and whether or not a brand new literary style was invented by the author of Mark. This series forms a complete essay written for my work toward a Masters Degree and I thought it interesting enough to post here for reading and discussion.
For the greater part of the history of the church the Gospel of Mark has been sidelined as the “poor cousin” to the Gospel of Matthew, rarely being preached upon by the Church Fathers and with very few commentaries being written on it, in fact none until the eighth century. For the early church it was Matthew that was held to have priority over Mark.
Augustine was one Church Father who held Matthean priority over Markan, suggesting that, “Mark appears only as [Matthews] follower and abbreviator” The view of Matthean Priority held for centuries until source critics began questioning the primacy of Matthew.
…[tradition held] that Matthew was the first of the gospels to appear. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the source critics established the priority of Mark over Matthew and Luke. The traditional “Second Gospel” became the first gospel.
Widespread scholarly consensus on the priority of Mark postualtes what is known as “the two-source hypothesis”; i.e. Matthew and Luke had before them a copy of Mark, along with a saying s source (‘Q’) as they wrote their gospels. The so called ‘minor agreements’ between Matthew and Luke against Mark, which are often cited for support by scholars not convinced of Markan priority, have some weight, however;
“The differing arrangement of this material in Matthew and Luke has been held to preclude a direct literary relationship between these Gospels and to require an indirect relationship, mediated by Q.
The dating of Mark is, as with dating many of the biblical texts, fraught with difficulty. Dates range from 35CE (Crossley, The Date of Mark’s Gospel) to 70CE and even later. Irenaeaus taught that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome following the death of Peter and Paul, which occurred during the persecution of Nero in around 64-67 CE. Clement of Alexandria however taught that it was in Peter’s lifetime that Mark wrote the gospel at the behest of those who had heard Peter preach.
Internal evidence however, suggests a later date .
Mark 13:1-2 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down”
Unless the text is taken as an actual prophecy (which is not impossible), this apparent allusion to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans places the date of writing at earliest 70CE.
The Author of Matthew speaks of Jewish places of worship as ‘…their synagogues”: Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 10:17; 12:9; 13:54. Christians used synagogues to worship in until 90CE when Jews excluded them from worshiping in them in 90CE. This provides evidence for dating the writing of Matthew to 90CE at the earliest. These proposed dates for the writing of Mark and Matthew further argue for Markan priority.
 Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of Mark. A Commentary, Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2002. http://www.wtsbooks.com/common/pdf_links/9780801048418.pdf See also William L. Lane, “From Historian to Theologian: Milestones in Markan Scholarship,” Review & Expositor 75.4 (Fall 1978): 601-617.
 Augustine, De consensu evangelistarum, 1.2 (PL 34:1044): as cited in Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of Mark. A Commentary
 Francis J, Maloney The Gospel of Mark. A Commentary p2
 Ronald L. Troxel, Lecture 4: Markan Priority: Early Christian Gospels at http://hebrew.wisc.edu/~rltroxel/gospels/lect4.pdf
 Francis J, Maloney The Gospel of Mark. A Commentary, Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2002
 F. Neirynck, T.Hansen, and F. van Segbroeck, The Minor Agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark, with a Cumulative List (BETL 37; Leuven: Leuven University Press,1974)
 Jeffery Peterson, Order in the Double Tradition and the Existence of Q, http://www.austingrad.edu/images/Resources/Peterson/Order%20in%20Double%20Tradition.pdf
 James G. Crossley, The Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (JSNTSup 266; London/New York: T. & T. Clark [Continuum], 2004).
 Irenaeaus, Against Heresies, 3,1,1
 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, vi.14.6f cited in D. Guthrie New Testament Introduction (revised) Intervarsity Press, 1990
 Kenneth L Carroll, The Gospel of John and the Exclusion of Christians From the Synagogues. https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:1m1947&datastreamId=POST-PEER-REVIEW-PUBLISHERS-DOCUMENT.PDF